After splitting a home-and-home of overtime games with the Evansville IceMen, the Indy Fuel hit the road for their first weekend away from the friendly confines of the Fairgrounds Coliseum. They’ll make a quick jaunt down I-74 to face the Cincinnati Cyclones on Friday night, then travel to Wheeling for a Sunday contest. It’ll also mark two new opponents, as the Fuel have faced Evansville and Fort Wayne six times in the first eight games.
Record (W-L-OTL-SOL): 2-3-2-1, t3rd North Division
Looking back: The Fuel had two outstanding starts in last week’s home-and-home with Evansville, building 3-1 leads in each game. Evansville rallied to tie each contest and send it into OT. On Friday, the Fuel were able to come away with a 4-3 shootout win when the team went 4-5 in the shootout, and Cody Reichard stopped two of the four Evansville shooters. On Saturday, the Fuel got the game’s first 13 shots, and built leads of 2-0 and 3-1 before falling in OT on Brandon Wong’s goal out of a netmouth scramble. The Fuel were very good on the PK, scoring a shorthanded goal each night. Patrick Cullen had an assist on Matt White’s SHG on Friday night, then scored one of his own on Saturday. Matt White had three points on the weekend, with two goals on Friday and an assist on Saturday. White, Nick Bruneteau and Klarc Wilson all scored their first professional goals over the weekend.
This week’s games
Friday: at Cincinnati Cyclones (3-1-0-0), 7:35 p.m., U.S. Bank Arena (Radio: CBSSports1430.com)
The Fuel and Cyclones renew an old inter-city rivalry that has lasted through several different franchises — the AHL Indianapolis Capitals and Cincinnati Mohawks in the early 1950s, the IHL Indianapolis Chiefs and Cincinnati Mohawks from 1955-58, the feud between the WHA Racers and Stingers from 1976-78, and matchups between the CHL Checkers and Tigers, and later the IHL Ice and Cyclones. Whatever the era, Indy and Cincy teams have had a long rivalry and connection. This time, they meet at U.S. Bank Arena — a place where longtime Indy fans might remember is the location of Gene Peacosh’s overtime goal in the wee hours of the morning. This is the first meeting between teams from Indy and Cincy since 1999, when the Ice won a 1-0 game in U.S. Bank Arena to clinch a playoff series victory over the old IHL Cyclones franchise. Like last week’s opponent, Evansville, Cincinnati has played a light schedule, having played just four games so far. The Cyclones are 3-1 in those games, although they’ve been outscored 15-14 and have lost their lone home game. Last week, Cincinnati swept two games in the Quad Cities, beating the Mallards 3-2 on Friday and 5-4 on Saturday. Forward Andrew Yogan had a goal and four assists in the weekend, forward Joel Basaraba had two goals and three assists, and forward Stephan Vigier had two goals and an assist to lead the Cyclones. Sam Brittain won both games in goal, stopping 47 of 53 shots. He teams with Rob Madore, who was last year’s Kelly Cup Final MVP despite the Cyclones losing the series to Alaska. Barasaba has since been called up by AHL San Antonio. Yogan (2-5-7) and Vigier (3-1-4) are the top active leading scorers for the Cyclones. The Fuel will see Cincinnati often in November – the Cyclones come to Indy for two games Nov. 26-27 at the Coliseum. Cincinnati is the ECHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators and their AHL teams.
Sunday: at Wheeling Nailers (3-2-0-0), 4:05 p.m., WesBanco Arena (Radio: WXNT-1430, CBSSports1430.c0m)
The Fuel get a Saturday off before heading to Wheeling for a Sunday matinee. It will be the Nailers’ third game in three days, as they travel to Evansville on Friday and Cincinnati on Saturday. Last weekend, Wheeling split a home-and-home with the Reading Royals, falling 3-1 on Thursday in Reading, then winning 3-2 in Wheeling’s WesBanco Arena. Shane Bakker had two goals for the Nailers in the Saturday victory. Goaltender Franky Palazzese played both games, stopping 43 of 48 shots. Forward Sahir Gill had a goal and an assist over the weekend. Forward Riley Brace (2-5-7) and Carter Rowney (1-6-7) lead the Nailers in scoring. Gill (2-3-5) and defenseman Zach Yuen (2-3-5) are third on the team. Wheeling is 4-18 (22.2%) on the PP, but has one of the best PK units in the league so far, having killed off 21-of-23 (91.3%), including a perfect 14-of-14 on the road. Wheeling is the ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens, as well as their AHL teams. Wheeling has a familiar face on the roster – former Indiana Ice player Ben Blood. This will be the first of two meetings in a calendar week – Wheeling returns for Indy’s next home game on Nov. 15.
Of note: Robert Czarnik continues to lead the ECHL in power play goals with three. … Patrick Cullen is tied for the lead in rookie PPG & also tied for second in shorthanded points with 2. … Cullen’s four goals are third-most among ECHL rookies … Cullen and Rhett Bly each have six points, tied for 10th among ECHL rookies. … Nick Jones’ 4 power play points are tied for tops among league defensemen and second among rookies … The Fuel have played a league-high four OT/SO games so far. … The Fuel PP is clicking at a 7-34 clip (20.6%), 10th in the ECHL. The PK is 21-for-26 (80.8%), but has killed off 17 of the last 18 opposing power play opportunities and has contributed shorthanded goals in two consecutive games … Patrick Cullen is riding a two-game scoring streak … The Fuel lead the ECHL in first-period goals (11) and are outscoring teams 18-17 in the first two periods of games … The Fuel are outshooting opponents 80-60 in the second periods of games … Czarnik (5-2-7), Cullen (4-2-6), Bly (3-3-6) and defensemen Mathieu Brisebois (1-4-5) and Jones (1-4-5) lead the Fuel in scoring. Cullen also leads the team in +/- (+3).
Moves: The Fuel made two roster moves last week. Forward Travis Ouellette was signed mid-week and Pete Massar was placed on the reserve list. Also, the Blackhawks reassigned goaltender Mac Carruth to the Fuel. Jordan Tibbett dressed on Friday as an emergency backup and was released Saturday. Carruth had spent a week as the backup to Michael Leighton in the AHL while Rockford’s Scott Darling was dressing & playing with the Chicago Blackhawks. Carruth started Saturday’s tilt in Evansville.